Even after all these years of listening to the ever increasing arguments in its favour, atheism still makes no sense to me.
A number of years ago I wrote a post on 7 Reasons Why Atheism Makes No Sense To Me. It’s actually even today one of the most popular posts on the site, and for quite some time it was also the number one search result for “why atheism makes sense”. It even had a very respectable retort written against it.
And since then, a lot of life has happened – marriage, fatherhood, changing faith communities, getting older, COVID, widescale wars, and general living.
So, has my opinion changed?
No, and yes in some ways.
But even after all this time, atheism still makes no sense to me.
I live in Australia which has even moreso than 8 years ago become a secular nation with sharp declines in religious belief, at least based on the census results. These trends continue across all Western nations with religious belief relegated to something you do to make yourself feel good in your own time, and a topic that regularly remains criticised as fairytale or a system of control rather than a genuine series of explanations for how life came about and what it should look like.
And I should note, I’ll be specifically talking from a Judeo-Christian worldview as I’m a Christian and I live in one of many societies where this has been the foundation of government and belief for centuries until more recent times.
I’m a logical, Type A, INFJ personality type, and I’ve worked as a software consultant in the IT industry for the last 17~ years. So for me, having explanations and things that make sense really matters.
And although we have an internet full of logical thinkers who face challenges in understanding faith such as the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, many questions and answers on Quora, and especially any comments section of any news article on any site concerning religion, I would like to submit to you that I don’t think there’s as much logical sense to atheism or secularism as is being made out.
And sure, no doubt you will have opinions on these. I encourage all of us to continue on the pursuit of truth in our lives, and it’s so important that we do eventually find it. But you’ve already read all the people telling you why Christian (or other) religion is nonsense and a waste of time. Allow me to challenge your thinking with the struggles that I still have in trying to accept a secular approach.
Here are 6 reasons that atheism still makes no sense to me.
#1: Because it’s not an approach used in any other area of life
As mentioned, I’ve worked in the IT industry approaching two decades. And I have never, ever, on any site, government or private sector, large enterprise or smaller organisation, ever had anyone describe a software or system problem as an accident.
Immediately as an issue occurs, the incident and problem managers are on the phone to the executive, war rooms are spun up, and everyone in the blast radius is called into a number of meetings and reviews to investigate and fix the problem as soon as possible, with everyone asking who did what recently, who designed a particular program, what logic it followed, what the results say, and how we can get the party responsible to fix it. It is accepted that there is always an intentional action or a series of intentional actions that led to the current state of affairs.
I’ve never seen a car accident where the insurance company or police have accepted a statement that 4.6 billion years of forces as part of a 92 billion year cycle was responsible for that guy ramming up the back of that other car.
I’ve never been in or seen a room of secular minds who would dismiss the owners of the venue for building the theatre and setting up all the chairs and tables that are being used as non-existent fairytales.
And yet I would challenge this view as being one that actually dismisses the most logical explanation, at least based on how every single person on earth approaches every single other discussion on the kids making a mess, a company’s funds being mismanaged, an untreated illness that is getting worse without treatment, a friendship falling apart, a large event being a great success or failure, or any other set of circumstances people find themselves in constantly all day.
And then you want to tell me that you’ll accept the multiverse or simulation theories over a creator, as many leading atheists and secular scientists now do, even though both of those theories still require a creator or intelligent agent.
This is one of the big reasons why atheism still makes no sense to me, and unless atheists start explaining everything else in their life as being the result of unstructured randomness, I’ll need a stronger argument to see your point.
#2: Because it actually explains how not why
Here’s probably where I’ve seen my beliefs shift a bit over the years. There’ve been a lot of discoveries and experiments and observations that have backed up the claims of evolutionists and geologists for organisms increasing in complexity, or an older earth. These include Richard Lenski’s LTEE experiment, as well as advances in understandings of radioactive isotypes and their half-life against findings.
And I think the clash has been that such findings seem to counter or offer an alernate path to an extreme literal interpretation of the creation story.
But as I hear scientists describe and enhance understanding of the formation of planets, tracking common elements across planets, having a better understanding of our geological structure, I keep actually hearing “how” the universe may have came about without dismissing the “why” or the “what”.
There is really no clear conflict in having all these amazing systems working together and the belief that a God set it all in motion or defined the processes. In fact as a software programmer I daily see the power of what having several systems set up can cause others to achieve. With so many systems in effect and the origin constantly unknown, I personally find myself seeing the invisible hand at work very clearly in the process.
As an aside, I’ve also been rather fascinated by a theory on the Burckle mega tsunami being the cause of a worldwide flood event.
The very first verses of the Judeo-Christian creation account even describe that the spirit of God hovered over the waters before the story really gets going. I think we may be discovering just exactly what “the waters” was, whether a pre-existing earth or a certain state of the universe before things were pushed more in a certain direction.
This point goes into #3
#3: Because the universe is utterly amazing
Every few months I go on a real science kick to catch up on developments in physics and scientific discoveries and astronomy. I’ve loved hearing the different views on the question of whether or not we are alone, particularly enjoying the balanced views of Professor David Kipling on his desire for more evidence.
And I just gotta say – the universe is utterly incredible.
There was a hypothesis put forward in trying to answer the question of where the aliens are in the form of the rare earth hypothesis. Even its secular authors and proponents list off line after line how many fine tuned constants and factors about our earth that are in favour of our existence.
The presence of water, the proximity from its nearest star being in the habitable zone, a Jupiter and/or Saturn sized planet that regularly block catastrophic world ending asteroids, solar flares, the orbit of the earth and its rotation, the proximity and size of the moon, the seasons and tides, the magnetosphere – all these and more giving the earth what almost seems to be special treatment in preserving our lives.
That’s not even to mention the constants of gravity, friction, Euler’s number and logarithmic growth, temperatures, the fact certain elements react with others, quantum entanglement, the wonder of geology, climate, the presence of natural resources and fresh water, strong nuclear force, the presence of dark matter, the…
It’s stunning. And then you can even zoom out and consider just how excessively large some of the objects in the universe are. I’ve been absolutely blown away watching videos and studies on Stephenson 2-18, the largest known star in existence, as well as evidence for black hole stars and galaxies that collide. All within a universe that is expanding ever increasingly beyond what we could ever hope to explore.
And also that if even if one of these numerical constants or systems was slightly different or didn’t exist, bam, no life, perhaps even no universe.
When I hear all this, I’m not inclined to think of how the universe is a wonderful accident – I instantly find myself drawn to the awe of the psalmist David who wrote “When I consider the work of your hands… what is man that you are mindful of him?”.
Same evidence, different perspective. I wonder how many universal constants and cases of fine tuning need to be discovered before it could be accepted that this cannot be chance.
#4: Because it has way too many unanswered questions it won’t answer
Another of the reasons atheism still makes no sense to me is that, even moreso than 8 years ago – we keep having more and more questions asked that aren’t answered.
Where does water come from? Theories that none of them really work, but we’ll accept.
Where does morality come from? All socialogical theories that all have flaws but we’ll accept.
Where does the soul come from? An amazing thing I discovered in the last few years is that humans are 43% human and all our other cells are viruses, bacteria, or otherwise. And given that you replenish almost every cell in your body every few years, it makes you wonder what you actually are. Eat your heart out, Ship of Theseus. But the question of the soul seems to still be one atheists ask about without answering.
And every single prominent atheist still seems to base or communicate their belief in the forms of questions that we could actually go there and have a real look at answering, like why is there so much suffering in the world, why do bad things happen to good people, and what is the identity of this “entity” or force that is so clearly guiding things across the universe that we theorise around without diving in to explore.
#5: Because people with “no purpose” continue to search for it
Speaking of questions it asks but doesn’t answer, here’s the biggest one – who am I? What is my purpose in this world?
Atheism goes hand in hand with either nihilism – I have no purpose and life is meaningless – or Friedrich Nietzche’s proposal of existentialism, that purpose is something I make myself rather than having applied to me.
Jesus actually would regularly call on his disciples to “check the fruit”. In other words, consider what the results are of the way someone is living their life. Whether you believe in the existence of Jesus or not, you’ve got to admit it’s some pretty simple but wise advice that we should have a look at what happens when people go down a certain path.
And we can indeed see the fruit of this advice primarily in the lives of Gen Z. There are varying statistics but all of them point to at least more than half of those in this non-religiously raised generation are depressed or have poor mental health, with one of the largest complaints from Gen Z being a lack of purpose or direction.
And so we do the right thing for these younger people – we encourage them towards hope and finding purpose. This is a great thing to do.
But the problem is that the basis of your worldview is that you’re an accident from nowhere trying to do something of any significance in the 70~ years you’re alive for.
So, which is it? You have no purpose, or you were born for a purpose? No wonder people are so confused and depressed.
And clearly the human heart has awareness that you were made for more and are here for a reason.
But to fully embrace atheism, you need to accept that you don’t have a purpose.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? Atheism still makes no sense to me because every atheist I’ve ever met is still trying to find out, as we all are, who we are and what we were born to do, in complete contradiction to the centre of a secular worldview.
#6: Because I have seen and experienced too much
There are many reasons why atheism still makes no sense to me, and in earnestly considering the experiences of others I find that my own experience with Christianity and faith drives a lot of my understanding as well. I don’t just believe in God academically, I have seen evidence of him time after time in my own life and continue to do so. More in How Easter Changed My Life.
I actually consider every person to be religious. In truth there’s a lot about the Christian faith that is taken on exactly that – faith. And that’s true of all belief systems really, that at some point we just have to make the decision if we’ve seen and heard enough to decide to believe one way or the other.
Jesus said that those who seek and hunger for righteousness will be filled. And I believe this as well. If you’re on a journey of finding truth, I honestly believe you’re going to find the answers you’re looking for, and that your quest will be rewarded.
My intention here is to show that there is actually more to religious belief than crutches and kingdoms. That not every person makes a faith decision based on feelings or obligation, but rather that there is a lot of logical value in deciding to believe in God. In the midst of millions of articles and videos and lines of thinking that convey the fruitlessness of religious faith, I hope to be one voice to challenge that thinking that the accepted worldview isn’t actually that acceptable and is worth holding up to scrutiny before you allow it to rule your life.